And They're Off!

Yesterday, five skippers hoisted sail and began a 7,500 mile leg from La Rochelle, France to Cape Town, South Africa, one of five such 'ocean sprints' that will carry the fleet through some 30,000 miles during the 2010/2011 Velux Five Oceans Race. Conditions couldn’t have been finer for the start: bluebird skies, a good breeze, and plenty of fanfare as the general public actually cares about sailing in France.

Velux 5 Oceans Skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht, Le Pingouin - Velux 5 Oceans

American Brad Van Liew, a two-time veteran of the race who won Class Two in 2002, hit the track hard, crossing the line in second before overtaking Zbigniew ’Gutek’ Gutkowski’s Operon Racing. Van Liew’s Le Pingouin has been looking quick thus far—may this good fortune continue.

Meanwhile, at the RC 44 World Championship for the Islas Canarias Puerto Calero Cup, BMW Oracle helmsman Jimmy Spithill and his 17 team concluded a great week of racing by taking home top honors. This event marks the first RC 44 World Championship. 'We’re feeling great,' said Spithill. 'It was a tough day on the water for us. We tried to stay clean but got tangled up a couple of times. It was really unpredictable on the water, but at the end of day we hung tough and got it done.'

At the 2010 Canada’s Cup, Don Wilson’s Team Chicago Match Race Center successfully defended the trophy for the U.S. in a three-day event. In Connecticut at the Champion of Champions, Chris Raab and his crew of Robert Kinney won their first Jack Brown Trophy.

At the Hobie 16 North Americans, defending champions Enrique Figueroa and Victor Aponte (PUR) cinched the trophy by nabbing an impressive 11 bullets in 16 races. And finally, kiteboarder Robert Douglas established a new national record when he ticked 52.58 knots in the ditch at the Luderitz Speed Challenge.

May the four winds blow you safely home,